LACONIA — Some three dozen people joined city officials on Saturday to celebrate the official reopening of the popular Wyatt Park, which recently underwent its first major renovation in some 40 years.
The improvements to the South End park, which represent an investment of $75,000, were initiated by residents of the neighborhood after disturbances and incidents of vandalism led neighbors to shun the park and request increased police presence.
Beginning in 2012 there were a number of well attended public meetings and several conceptual designs. City Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) requested an appropriation of $50,000 to renovate the park. The Department of Public Works invested $15,000 in relocating a crosswalk, rebuilding a sidewalk, installing new curbing and paving nearby streets. HEAL (Heathy Eating Active Living) NH awarded the city a grant of $10,000 toward reviving the park.
The basketball court, a centerpiece of the park, was resurfaced and lined for hop-scotch, foursquare and pickle ball as well as basketball. Four light poles and new fencing were erected to enhance security. A water fountain was installed and the pavilion was renovated. New playground equipment A walking path was built around the perimeter of the park and additional green space was created.
Kevin Dunleavy, director of park sand recreation, said that if funding becomes available additional playground equipment, a picnic shelter and volleyball court could be added to the park. Mayor Ed Engler said that he would like to see more grass in the park, which he noted is just a budget issue.
Sally Perino, president of the Wyatt Park Association, who some neighborhood children believe owns the park, expressed her appreciation to the city for its investment. As an across the street neighbor, she has enjoyed the park for the past 44 years and recalled when it was the hub of the neighborhood, a venue for street festivals, wedding ceremonies and birthday parties as well as recreational activities.
"It's a family park again," remarked Amy Lovisek, deputy director of Parks and Recreation.
Engler attributed the success of the renovation to the advocacy of those like Perino, who urged city officials to reinvest in the park, which Dunleavy said has always been a popular attraction for not only residents of the South End but also the entire city.
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